In the News

Category archives for In the News

Finding That There’s Nothing to Find

In 1967, a team of scientists hauled a big pile of gear– electronics, particle detectors, a giant slab of iron– into the burial chamber at the base of one of the pyramids at Giza. This sounds like a scene from a science fiction or fantasy novel– throw in the fact that their first attempt was…

Men, Women, and Graduation Statistics

There was a great big New York Times article on women in science this week, which prompted no end of discussion. (I also highly recommend Bee’s response at Backreaction.) It’s built around the personal story of the author, Eileen Pollack, a physics major at Yale who decided not to go to grad school, and her…

One of the great things about “Fermi Problems” is that there are multiple ways of attacking them. So, for example, when considering the death ray plot yesterday, I used medical devices as an example system to assess the plausibility of the plot, while Physics Buzz talked total energy. But those aren’t the only ways to…

On “Death Rays”

One bad thing about SteelyKid’s preschool graduation yesterday was that it drained my phone battery, causing me to miss an interview request from a local TV station looking for somebody to talk about a a couple of local guys arrested for a plot to build a “death ray” from X-ray components. This is pretty far…

One of the reasons I held off on commenting on the whole E. O. Wilson math op-ed thing, other than not having time to blog, was that his comments were based on his own experiences. And, you know, who am I to gainsay the personal experiences of a justly famous scientist? At the same time,…

One of the hot topics of the moment is the E. O. Wilson op-ed lamenting the way math scares students off from science, and downplaying the need for mathematical skill (this is not news, really– he said more or less the same thing a few years ago, but the Wall Street Journal published it to…

On Twitter and blogs, we’re having another round of complaints about sensationalism and hype in science stories– Matthew Francis and Gabrielle Rabinowitz are the latest to cross my social media feeds. I’ve also seen some stories recently (that I’m too lazy to dig up) complaining about the latest Higgs Boson stuff, and I’m sure if…

Last week’s post talked about the general idea of negative temperature, with reference to this much-talked-about Science paper (which also comes in a free arxiv version from which the figures used here are taken). I didn’t go into the details of how they made a negative temperature gas, though, and as it’s both very clever…

The most talked-about physics paper last week was probably Negative Absolute Temperature for Motional Degrees of Freedom (that link goes to the paywalled journal; there’s also a free arxiv preprint from which the above figure is taken). It’s a catchy but easily misinterpreted title– Negative absolute temperature! Below Absolute Zero! Thermodynamics is wrong!– that obscures…

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel has just been announced, and goes to Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd S. Shapley “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.” I know basically nothing about these guys, but I assume they’ve earned their Sveriges Riksbank Prize, so…